Understanding Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is a condition that is passed down from generation to generation. Parents pass it down to their children, their children’s children and so on and so forth. This condition is caused by a defective CFTR gene. A normal CFTR gene roles by regulating the movement of salt and protein in our body. In a defective CFTR gene, the protein being produced will also be defective, consequently, causing the production of thick and sticky mucus. Studies have shown that more than 12 million Americans are considered to be carriers of the disease, while 30,000 manifest the condition.
People with cystic fibrosis can either be the carrier or the affected person. The carrier does not manifest the symptoms of the disease but just carries the defective gene. He will need another carrier so that they can both produce a child that is affected. Two carriers having four offsprings, hypothetically speaking, will produce a child that is both not affected and not a carrier, two children that are carriers, and one affected child. If one of the parents is not a carrier, their children would have a 50% chance of being a carrier and a 50% chance of being unaffected.
The affected child or person would be the one exhibiting symptoms of cystic fibrosis. It is not a very pretty picture, and the expected survival age would be around mid-30s. However, there are newer and better treatments that have been developed so people are optimistic.
The following would be the symptoms exhibited by a person affected with cystic fibrosis:
• Respiratory System
People with cystic fibrosis will have very thick and sticky mucus. This will make it hard for them to breathe properly. Due to the mucus build-up, they will be more inclined to developing bronchitis, pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
• Digestive System
The mucus build-up does not only affect the respiratory system, but all other systems in addition. In the digestive system, the mucus can block the ducts found in your pancreas and cause a malabsorption of protein and fats. This can rule to diarrhea and/or greasy, foul-smelling stools. Children with cystic fibrosis will characterize malnutrition and poor weight gain.
• Reproductive System
In males affected with cystic fibrosis, they will not be able to have children because they do not have a vas deferens. Females, however high, will have a hard time imagining a child because of the blockage of mucus plugs in her cervix.
• Integumentary System
A person affected with cystic fibrosis will have salty sweat or skin. The defective CFTR gene causes a malabsorption of salt content in the body, causing it to be released by the skin. One of the roles of salt is to retain fluids in the body. Without salt, your body will be losing large amounts of water and fluids, consequently causing dehydration.
There are some people who confuse cystic fibrosis with black lung disease. These two conditions are very different. Black lung disease is an occupational danger for coal miners. It is caused by inhaling too much coal consequently, it is not hereditary.
As mentioned earlier, cystic fibrosis is a very shared condition among Americans – Caucasians in particular. It is best to have stock knowledge of the condition so that when the unavoidable happens, you will be prepared.